At least one person has experienced a problem with Google’s Chrome OS LiveCD corrupting a partition table on his computer.
LiveCD operating systems are very convenient and sometimes extremely useful. They are useful not only to us, the users, but also as a marketing tool of sorts for the people who produce and distribute the OS, because they give people a way to try out a new operating system, without threatening their currently installed OSes.
At least, that is the theory. In practice, glitches can occur, and in the case of the Chrome OS LiveCD beta from Google (when was the last time you’ve seen a Google application that wasn’t in beta?), a glitch definitely appears to have occurred.
In a posting to the freebsd-questions list, a FreeBSD user explains that he booted his system from the Chrome OS LiveCD. Unfortunately, when he tried booting into FreeBSD again, it looks like Chrome OS had overwritten some partition table data.
Some glitches like these are to be expected with using testing software, of course, and this probably should not reflect too badly on the people at Google who are developing the Chrome OS software. They surely have not had time to test it against every single OS in existence, after all. On the other hand, one must wonder why a LiveCD is writing to the hard drive at all.
Be careful with beta testing LiveCDs. They may not be as safe as you expect.
Correction: TechRepublic user tthompson pointed out that the Chrome OS LiveCD was actually put together by a third party, and not by Google itself. It is, in fact, an OS “built around the revolutionary Google Chrome browser.” I apologize for the misleading statements about the source of the Chrome OS in this article, and appreciate tthompson’s diligence in identifying the error. The confusion arises in part because of the fact that Google people are actually working on a Chromium OS, which is not actually available as a LiveCD — and which is occasionally referred to as Google Chrome OS (even on the Chromium OS site); and in part because I apparently skimmed where I should have read more closely.